Smartphone Forensics; How much does your cell phone really know about you?

The world is celebrating the accelerated growth and advancement in technology like smartphones. Few people are aware of how much the latest and greatest technology can truly reveal about them. Smartphone and cell phone forensics has become such a crucial tool used by investigators. Smartphone forensics can used to unravel mysteries surrounding many events. From cases of serial cheating to criminal cases and investigations, cell phone forensics can recover the truth about many things.

Smartphone data can be used in court as evidence or exhibits. The cell phones can reveal just about anything; deleted text messages, call logs and emails, pictures and even location history!

Most cell phone manufacturers claim that their devices are really sophisticated. And sometimes the most obvious source of data is overlooked. Cell phones are basically a two-way radio that enables cell phones to connect and communicate with networks by sending data to the nearest transmission tower.  The cell phone companies track this data.   They use it for billing.   A trained investigator can use it to discover things like:

  • Where the cell phone was at a certain time.
  • If a cell phone was in use (or NOT) in use at a certain time.
  • Total usage of the cell phone.
  • The owner information of a cell phone, including billing names, address, credit card information, etc.

Records from the cell company combined with the a cell phone forensics exam provides a comprehensive picture of what was happening with a phone.

Smartphone Forensics – Application History

Just think, your “Pokemon Go” history knows every Pokestop and the locations of every Pokemon you’ve ever caught or hatched. Every single Pokestop that you’ve ever accessed.   What if that data was available to someone searching a phone? All of that data is geo-tagged, meaning an investigator can get an idea of when and where someone was.

Other Apps on smartphones keep track of user’s locations to deliver targetted ads when they walk into a certain store. Those pop-ups you get when you walk into the drugstore or the department store happen because the phone is watching and sometimes logging this information.

Smartphones sometimes keep histories of every wireless network it’s been around, including those it has logged into. If a phone suddenly stopped working from a catastrophic event, the last location or wireless network may provide some information on what happened.  All of this could be useful to an investigator trying to put the pieces of a story together.

Smartphone Security – Should I get a tinfoil hat?

In short, no. Smartphones have a TON of data about their owner. Modern smartphones have built in security that make it difficult to access this data unless you are the owner. Sometimes a trained cell phone expert can get around certain security mechanisms, but the everyday user shouldn’t worry about everyone go through their personal data.

Give us a call!

At Pulse Forensics, we know how to recover, extract, analyze and present data from smartphones.  Give us a call and let us know your needs. CONTACT PAGE